Trees that won’t undermine your property’s value
As we all know, trees in general are considered a very good thing. They provide habitat for interesting and vital wildlife, they help keep pollution down, they give personality and structure to a place and they look great.
Trees can help reduce bills
Sometimes people worry about trees planted near buildings but there are some advantages. One of the most important is to provide shade in the summer and shelter from rain and wind in the cooler months – which can help minimise weather damage to your home and even bring utility bills down as you need less cooling in your home when it’s hot and less heating when it’s cold.
Trees can improve your home environment
Trees can also provide a sound barrier from busy roads or other noises that might disturb and they can obviously screen off unsightly views in a much more natural way than a wall or a fence. Planting spiky or thorny trees can also deter unwanted visitors (human or animal!) without the need for a more formal screen.
Trees can make you feel better
You don’t have to go as far as to actually hug a tree to know that they make you feel better. Many, many studies have shown that living in proximity to trees is good for your health and wellbeing.
‘Urban greens pace also provides a setting for physical exercise, reduces ultraviolet radiation and air pollution, and helps relieve stress – benefiting physical and mental health’ (Konijnendijk and Randrup, 2004).
Check out the NHS Forest site at nhsforest.org to see just how good trees are for your health.
Trees do less damage than you might think but…
According to the Royal Horticultural Society,
‘Most trees growing near buildings cause no damage. Subsidence and structural damage can be caused by many other factors, including soil type and depth of foundations.’
But here are some things to bear in mind if you’re concerned about trees near houses and other buildings:
1. Many trees grow near buildings and, in most cases, these will not cause any damage
2. Sometimes trees growing near buildings can cause problems with subsidence (especially after a long period of dry weather). Plus are also the physical threats caused by falling limbs or structural failure of the main trunk that you need to keep an eye on
3. Often tree roots will only cause damage if your drains or foundations are already compromised by cracking or other forms of subsidence – so keeping up to date with any building maintenance is vital
4. If you do have a substantial tree near a building or public highway, it is well worth having it professionally surveyed every few years to assess its overall health and to determine any pruning or felling requirements. Ensure that you keep these reports in a safe place, as they may be useful in any negotiations with insurance companies or public bodies
5. Always check with the Local Planning Authority whether a Tree Protection Order is in place before working on a tree. If you damage a tree that is protected you could be liable for a big fine. (You can find out about Tree Protection Orders from your local council).
You can find out more about safe planting and suitable trees for your garden at rhs.org.uk
Most trees cause no damage
Tree roots spread up to three times the height of the tree
Modern buildings are seldom affected
Shrinkable clay soils are most at risk
Subsidence is worst in dry years
*Source RHS website
There’s an old Chinese proverb that says:
‘The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is today’
So it seems to be pretty universal belief that trees do more good than harm – just keep half an eye on any you’re responsible for.